Bethiah Vickery Crosby's Gravesite
399 years ago 102 people boarded a ship in England and sailed for North America. They made it to Massachusetts and then a year later had what many refer to as the “first” Thanksgiving. The first part can be debated, but the 51 persons representing 26 families who made it through that first tough year were indeed thankful to be alive. The ship, of course, was the Mayflower, the people onboard were the Pilgrims, and so the reason Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, in order to remember those plucky folks and the indigenous people who aided them.
258 years ago, some descendants of the Pilgrims came to Nova Scotia and took up land vacated when the Acadians were expelled by the British. Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties being the nearest points of land to New England, many of these Planters came here to the area and founded towns like Yarmouth, Barrington and Lockeport, to name but a few.
My Dad’s family history is tied up in Port Maitland, the place I live, a small fishing village 22 km north of Yarmouth – and the place the early Yarmouth settlers spread out to. The image this week is of my 3x Great Grandmother’s grave marker. Bethiah Vickery married Charles Crosby and lived in Lake George, just back of the coast from where we live in Port Maitland. Bethiah links me to 7 of those 26 families, being the descendant of multiple Mayflower Pilgrims. My Mother’s family shows how closely tied to New England Nova Scotia is, as while her hometown and the place where I was born, is Groton, Massachusetts, she is also a Mayflower descendant – and can trace her ancestry to 3 more families, meaning I descend from 10 of the 26 families that were aboard the boat in the first place.
Genealogy is a hobby where one traces all this, and it is great fun for me because I love the stories. The history that ties us all to the places our families are from, the places they called home. As I stood in front of Bethiah’s grave marker I thought of the struggles she must have had and how life has changed over the years. But I also thought of Thanksgiving and how we do have an internal need to be cognizant of the past, and those who came before us. As another 3x Great Grandmother said in a journal:
“Thou has received from thy Creator, and not a little from thy ancestors, gifts for which thou art responsible.”
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.